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The coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to create an ongoing, evolving situation. Employers, schools, public organizations and other entities face challenging decisions in determining the best ways to respond.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following guidance for businesses and employers in responding to the coronavirus.

Precautionary Steps

Employers should start taking reasonable, proactive steps to protect their employees and customers from contracting and transmitting COVID-19 to others. The CDC provides the following guidelines.

  • Encourage or require sick employees to stay home.
    • If an employee is displaying symptoms of acute respiratory illness upon arriving at work, they should be separated from other employees or sent home.
    • Employees displaying symptoms of coughing and sneezing should cover their noses and mouths.
    • Display posters throughout the workplace encouraging employees to practice hand hygiene, to stay home when sick, and to observe cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Ensure that the workplace environment is cleaned routinely.
    • Keep frequently touched surfaces, such as keyboards, door handles and counters, routinely cleaned.
    • Additional disinfectant products beyond currently used cleaning products are not recommended at this point.
    • Provide employees with disposable wipes to encourage routine cleaning throughout the workplace.
  • Inform traveling employees of recommended precautionary practices.
    • Check CDC notices related to international travel.
    • Remind employees to be mindful of any new or worsening symptoms of acute respiratory illness before or during their trip.
    • Encourage employees who become ill when traveling to contact their healthcare provider for guidance and notify their supervisor.
    • For those traveling outside the United States, employers should provide guidance related to seeking medical care while the employees are abroad.

Developing a Plan

In case the United States experiences a widespread coronavirus outbreak, employers should have a plan in place to protect employees, while also maintaining operations. The CDC recommends that employers remember the following when developing this plan.

  • Consider the impact the disease could have on those most vulnerable in your workforce. The most vulnerable are older adults and those with chronic medical conditions.
  • Anticipate possible increases in employee absences because of individual employee illness, illness among their family members and other dependents, and temporary closures of childcare facilities, schools, and other employers due to concerns related to the coronavirus.
  • Implement training strategies to ensure that multiple employees are capable of providing essential functions in case key staff members are unable to do so.
  • Coordinate with any satellite office leaders and provide guidance on how they should respond to possible outbreak conditions in their communities.
  • Ensure that the proposed plan includes employees in the development process and that it is flexible. Address any gaps identified in the plan.

Employers can stay informed of current information related to the coronavirus by coordinating with public health officials and seeking guidance as necessary. To learn more about the coronavirus and how employers can proactively take steps to help keep their employees healthy, please visit the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html.

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